OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: A Palestinian rammed a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers visiting a popular tourist spot in occupied Jerusalem Sunday, killing four and wounding 17 others, authorities said.
The driver was also killed at the location overlooking holy sites. It was the deadliest Palestinian attack in Jerusalem in months and targeted officer cadets as they disembarked from a bus that brought them to the Armon Hanatziv promenade.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Visiting the attack site, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was strong evidence the attacker was a supporter of Daesh (ISIS) and suggested a link to previous vehicle attacks in Europe. Netanyahu offered no evidence to support the claim.
Palestinian security officials said the driver was a Palestinian in his late 20s from East Jerusalem’s Jabal Mukaber neighborhood. Palestinian media named him as Fadi al-Qanbar.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that nine Jabal Mukaber residents, including five members of Qanbar’s family, were arrested on suspicion of aiding him.
Chaos broke out at the scene when the truck plowed through the crowd, as hundreds of soldiers took part in a tour about the history of Jerusalem. The military said three cadets and an officer were killed, and 17 others were wounded.
Netanyahu visited the scene and convened his security Cabinet, a forum of senior ministers, to discuss Israel’s response. He said that security forces were controlling access in and out of the neighborhood.
A government source said that ministers had called for the demolition of Qanbar’s home and for his body not to be returned to the family for burial. It also decided to detain without trial persons expressing sympathy for Daesh.
A video shared online showed a flatbed truck with a crane in the rear drive through a group of soldiers standing next to a bus. The truck then quickly backed up before the driver was shot dead.
Multiple bullet holes could be seen in the windshield of the truck.
Fawzi Barhum, a spokesman for Islamist movement Hamas, called the attack “heroic and brave.”
Actions inspired by Daesh in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem have been rare and only a few dozen Palestinians are known to have declared their sympathy with the group.
A wave of Palestinian street attacks, including vehicle rammings, has largely slowed but not stopped completely since it began in October 2015, with 37 Israelis and two visiting Americans having been killed in these attacks.
At least 247 Palestinians have been killed in violence in Israel, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the same period.
The Daily Star